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Executed in the United States, Troy Davis proclaimed his innocence until the end

Translated Monday 26 September 2011, by Jayne McKenzie and reviewed by Jayne McKenzie

Troy Davis, who had become a symbol in the struggle against the death penalty, was executed on Wednesday in the United States. He proclaimed his innocence until the end, but was unable to overcome his final judiciary hurdle.

Just before the lethal injection in the Jackson prison (Georgia), the 42-year old African-American repeated that he was not responsible for the death of the white policeman, for which he was convicted in 1991.

“I was not responsible, I did not have a gun”, Troy Davis declared, according to a local journalist who was present at the execution with the victim’s parents. “For those about to take my life, may God bless your souls”, he added.

Initially scheduled for 7pm local time (2300 GMT), the execution was delayed by more than four hours, awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, who finally authorised him to be put to death. The death was recorded at 11.08pm (0308 GMT on Thursday), fifteen minutes after the execution began.

The hundreds of protestors outside the prison took the news with great despondency, after having held out hope for an unlikely move by the highest judicial powers of the country.

The French government quickly reacted in disapproval of the execution.

“We deeply regret the fact that the numerous appeals for clemency went unheard” the foreign affairs minister expressed in a statement.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail, killed by bullet wounds on a parking lot in Savannah, 1989. He had already escaped execution three times thanks to several appeals based on doubt over his guilt.

During the trial, nine witnesses identified Davis as having fired the gun, but the weapon was never found and no fingerprints or DNA were recorded. Since the trial, seven witnesses had withdrawn; some claimed to have been encouraged by the police to accuse Troy Davis.

The Supreme Court’s decision put an end to a day of intense effort by Troy Davis’s attorney, Brian Kammer, who demanded a stay of execution, assuring that he had new evidence exonerating his client.

The appeal made on Wednesday morning by Kammer cited “false evidence” by the forensic examiner who performed the autopsy on the dead police officer. This appeal was successively rejected by the county court, by the Supreme Court of Georgia and finally by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The previous day, the Georgia Board of Pardons had denied a prior appeal, paving the way for the execution. Troy Davis then wrote to his supporters from death row, where he had been for 20 years, stating that “the fight for justice” would not end with him.

President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday night that he refused to intervene. Spokesperson for the Whitehouse, Jay Carney, pointed out that it was not up to the President “to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution”.

During an interview on CNN, the mother of the police officer killed in 1989, Anneliese MacPhail, said she awaited “relief and peace” from the execution of Troy Davis, after the “hell” she has lived through since the death of her son.

Presented by his supporters as the prototypical wrongly convicted black man, Davis had the support of figures such as ex-President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benoit XVI and actress Susan Sarandon, along with the hundreds of support protests held throughout the world.

The New York Times condemned the “numerous serious errors” made in Davis’s file, criticising them as further proof of “the barbarity of the death penalty”.

Several hours before Troy Davis’ death, in Texas, Lawrence Brewer, a 44-year old American man and member of the Ku Klux Klan, convicted of a racist murder, was also executed.

The United States carried out 46 executions in 2010.


French Communist Party (PCF): “Human rights are in mourning today”
The world is waking up to horrifying news: Troy Davis was executed last night, after a five-hour delay. Our thoughts are with his family, with his sister, his friends, and the thousands of activists who supported Troy throughout his 20-year ordeal on death row.

Laurent Fabius (Socialist Party):
“I am shocked, the United States is a very democratic country, but these are barbaric practises”. “There is a strong possibility that he was innocent”. On Barack Obama’s non-intervention: “Unfortunately, the elections are approaching…”

CNCDH “appalled” by Troy Davis’ execution
The President of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) Yves Repiquet “strongly deplored Troy Davis’ execution” in a statement released on Thursday in Paris.
“This execution comes more than twenty years after his arrest”, Repiquet reminds, once again calling for “universal abolition of the death penalty”.

Amnesty International France denounced “the cowardly, shameful execution of Troy Davis”.
“Today, Georgia not only killed Troy Davis, they also killed the trust in the US judiciary system of all of Troy’s supporters throughout the world”, the organization’s president Geneviève Garrigos stated.

Robert Badinter: a “defeat for humanity”
The ex-justice minister and socialist, who was behind the law abolishing the death penalty in France spoke on Thursday calling Troy Davis’s execution “a defeat for humanity”. On radio channel Europe 1, the Senator for the Hauts-de-Seine département said of the convicted man executed in Georgia: “If he is innocent, as we are convinced, it is a crime, a judicial assassination”.
“This affair will forever taint the United States justice system”
, Badinter assured. “This is a tremendous defeat, for more than the United States, for humanity”.

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